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بِسْمِ اللهِ الرَّحْمنِ الرَّحِيْم

اَلْحَمْدُ لِلّهِ رَبِّ الْعَالَمِيْن،وَالصَّلاۃ وَالسَّلامُ عَلَی النَّبِیِّ الْکَرِيم وَعَلیٰ آله وَاَصْحَابه اَجْمَعِيْن۔

The Position of Hadith in the Islamic Shariah

The saying or action of the prophet, his character or his approval of any action done by his companions is called as Hadith. From the beginning of Islam, Companions, Tabayeen, Tabe-tabayeen, Scholars of Hadith, Fiqh and Tafseer and historians, all schools of thought have agreed upon the hadith being basic and important source for the Islamic Sharia after the Quran and the hadith is along with the Quran considered conclusive evidence and authentic. As Almighty Allah has stated in several places like (Surah An-Nahl: verse44) He has ordered the believers to submit to him and to obey the Messenger, and obeying the Messenger is nothing but following his hadith. That is, along with the ordainments of the Quran, following the Messengers sayings and actions i.e. the hadith is important. The truth is that the Quran cannot be understood without the hadith of the Messenger as the messenger has been given the responsibility of clearly explaining the laws of the Quran for the Ummah. The reason for sending the messenger is for guiding people by his actions and sayings.

 In matter of belief, there is no distinction between Allah and His messenger, while one cannot believe in one and not in the other. In the same way, there is no distinction between Allah’s Word and the prophet’s word, while considering one to be very important and follow it and not following other. Because if one of these is rejected and the other’s rejection is evident.

The aim of Hadith:

  1. To substantiate the beliefs, rules and issues given in the Quran.
  2. To explain clearly the beliefs, rules and issues given briefly in the Quran.
  3. Declaring things which are not clearly understandable in the Quran.
  4. To make things specific which are general in Quran.
  5. Stating other beliefs, rules and issues as Almighty Allah says in Surah Al-Hashr:Verse7
  6. Dha’eef hadith can be taken as evidence in matters of virtues and rules.
  7. Dha’eef hadith cannot be taken as evidence in matters of virtues and rules.
  8. Beliefs and rules cannot be proved but it can be taken as evidence in matters of virtues of deeds that are proven by the Quran and Sahih hadith. Most scholars of Hadith and Fiqh have this opinion. Imam Nawawi has written that there is a consensus of the scholars of the Ummah in this matter.

Types of Hadith: According to the Chain of hadith (the sources through which the Messenger’s Sayings, actions, approval or character have reached the Ummah), the hadith is divided in many types of which three given below:

Sahih: The Mar’fuh Hadith is one whose chain of narrators have reached a high status in matters of knowledge and righteousness, and every narrator has heard the hadith from his teacher, also there is no disagreement with other reliable narrator in the words of the hadith and there is no other deficiency.

Status of Sahih: There is a consensus among most of the scholars of Hadith, Fiqh and Tafseer that the beliefs and rules can be established by these hadiths.

Hasan: The Mar’fuh Hadith whose chain of narrators have reached a high status in matters of  righteousness, and every narrator has heard the Hadith from his teacher, also there is no disagreement with other reliable narrator in the words of the hadith but one of the narrators has not reached a high status in matters of knowledge.

Status of Hasan: There is a consensus among most of the scholars of Hadith, Fiqh and Tafseer that the beliefs and rules can be established by these hadiths but it is placed next to Sahih.

Dha’eef: Any one condition of Hasan being not fulfilled.

Status of Dha’eef: To make Dha’eef hadith an evidence in matters of rules and virtues, scholars have three views:

Note: The convention is not to use Sahih as an antonym for a wrong or a lie. Whereas Sahih means that it is a hadith which has no deficiency in its chain and all the narrators have reached a higher status in matters of righteousness and knowledge.  And Hasan is a hadith which is next in status to Sahih. Dha’eef is a hadith in whose chain there is a deficiency in any one narrator which has been stated above. From this we have come to know that Dha’eef is also a type of Sahih, the deficiency in Dha’eef is minor. There are Mau’dhu Hadiths compiled, but these are very few. Also the scholars of hadiths with their efforts have identified these Mau’dhu hadiths.

Dha’eef is also a type of Sahih:

From the period of the Messenger to this day, the opposite of Sahih is Mau’dhu. Which means, any sayings that have been wrongly attributed to the Messenger, the scholars of hadiths with their efforts have identified these, as Mau’dhu hadiths. And these are very few in numbers whereas Dha’eef hadith is also a type of Sahih. But most of the scholars accept it only in matters of virtues of actions. For example, if a narrator is not well-known i.e it is not known who he is, or he has lied once, or someone missing in the chain (which means that between two narrators there is a missing link for instance zaid said that omar narrated it but zaid never lived amongst omar which implies that there is a source missing between these two) because of  doubts and misgivings, scholars on a precautionary note, do not consider this narrators hadith in matters of beliefs and rules, and only accept it in matters of virtues where beliefs and rules are already proven in the Quran and Hadith. That is why, most of the books on hadith contain a large number of Dha’eef hadith except Bukhari and Muslim, and the Ummah has accepted these books for a long period. According to the research done by the scholars, even Bukhari’s notes and Muslim’s proofs contain a few Dha’eef hadith. Imam Bukahri has also written several books on hadith which contain Dha’eef Hadiths except Bukhari. There have been a large number of books written before and after Bukahri and Muslim and every Muhaddis has included Dha’eef hadiths in their books. In the same manner, some muhaddis have restricted themselves to compile Sahih like Sahih Ibne Khuzaima, Sahih Ibne Habban etc but they also include Dha’eef hadiths in their books which is a testament that all the scholars from the times of the Messenger to this day have accepted the Dha’eef hadith. The most popular Tafseer of the Quran (Tafseer Ibne Kathir) contains a good number of Dha’eef hadiths, even after this, the Ummah has accepted it for nearly seven centuries and it is the most read Tafseer and it is also a source for the Tafseers that were written after it.

If dha’eef hadith is not reliable then the question arises that why did the scholars include these in their books? And why would they travel long distance to acquire these? Also it is to be noted that if Dha’eef is not reliable then a large portion of the Seerah of the Messenger and history of Islam is to be buried. Because the Seerah and history is based on narrations which have a deficiency in their chain. Most of the scholars had a rule in matters of virtue of actions, the Dha’eef is considered reliable, and these scholars have included Dha’eef among the types of Sahih. Imam Nawawi(the author of Riyadhus Saliheen), who wrote the most popular commentary on Muslim, says that the scholars have stated following Dha’eef hadith  in matters of virtues and to support good and to discourage evil, is permissible. (Al-Azkar page7, 8). This very rule is written by several scholars, among them are Sheikh Mulla Ali Qari (Madhu’aath Kabeera: page5, Sharha Al-Aqariyya: vol1 p9, Fatha Babul Inaya:vol1 p49) Sheikh Hakim Abu Abdullah Nishapuri( Mustadrak Hakim vol1,p490) Sheikh ibneHajar al Haisami (Fathul mubeen, p9) Sheikh Abu Mohammed Ibne Qudaama (al-Mughni vol1,p1044) Sheikh Allam Shaukani (Nailul Avtaar vol3 P68) Sheikh Hafiz ibne Hajar Hanbali (SharhaIlal Tirmidhi, vol1, p72,74) Sheikh Allama Ibne Taymiya Hnabali (Fattawa vol1,p39) Sheikh Nawab Siddiq Hasan Khan (Daleeluth Taalib Alal Mataalib p889).

Nowadays, few people who are less than one percent of the Muslim population, have presented their opinions in such manner that what they are saying is sahih hadith and the rest of the ummah’s actions are based on the Dha’eef hadith. In their view, whatever they say is the criteria for a hadith to be Sahih or Dha’eef. In reality, after the transcribing of the books on hadith, there has been a detailed discussion onthe narrators which is called as Asma-e- Rijaal. There is much more difference of opinion among scholars of hadith to call a narrator dha’eef or reliable than the scholars of Fiqh in matters of legal rulings. It means that a hadith which is termed as Dha’eef by one scholar can be Sahih among others. For this reason, if any hadith is presented then a layman should not comment whether it is Sahih or Dha’eef because it could be very possible that if it is Sahih and it could make one dismiss the Messengers sayings. If a scholar opines that a hadith is not taken into consideration for doing a certain action then he should not follow it, but if any school of thought considers it be reliable enough to be acted upon and it does not go against any rulings of the Quran and hadith then one should respect the point of view other schools of thought. For example, it is proven that the Prophet used to supplicate with these words---------------- at the beginning of month of Rajab, this hadith is present in books like Musnad Ahmed, Bazzaar, Tibrani and Baihaqi, which are accepted by the whole Ummah. So the Scholars who object on the chain of this Hadith should not recite this supplication but if a group of scholars considers it to be reliable to act on it, then how intelligent is it to issue a Fatwa calling them Innovators.  In the same way, a large group of scholars have opined that the hadith relating to the 15th of Shaban being reliable and the Ummah from the beginning have acted on it, offering Nafl prayers, reciting Quran and remembering and supplicating to Allah individually during the night of 15th of Shaban. From this point of view, praying in the night of 15th of Shaban is not an innovation but is according to the teaching of Islam. In short, Dha’eef hadith is also a type of Sahih hadith and the Ummah has always accepted these in matters of virtues of actions.

 During the time of the prophet, it was not permissible for the general population to transcribe the hadith as there was a possibility of a mix-up but a group of companions individually, with the Messengers permission had written booklets of hadith. During the period of the righteous caliphs, the transcribing of hadith continued individually. During the caliphate (99-101H) of Omar bin AbdulAziz(61-101H)  special efforts were made to collect the hadiths and because of this, a large treasure of hadith was collected which was the main source for the books written later.

The period between the second and third century witnessed huge efforts made in compiling and transcribing hadith, for this very reason all the popular books Bukhari, Muslim, Tirmidhi, Abu-Dawood, Ibne Maja, Nisai(Sihah-e-Sitta) etc, were written during this period whereas Muatha Imam Malik was written around 160 Hijri. Before the writing of these books, Imam Abu Hanifa (Sheikh Nouman bin Sabith) died in the year 150H, and from Imam Mohammed sayings it is known that his book on Hadith, Kitabul Aasaar, was written before these books. It should be taken into notice that the practice of writing on a large scale started only after the second century, which means that just like Hadith,all the books written on Tafseer, Seerah and history have been systematically written after the second century. Before this century, other subjects and poetry were not present in a written form as very few people were literate. Upto the second century all the fields of knowledge, even large volumes of poets were transmitted orally. If a question was raised that the books of hadith have come into being only after second century then this very same doubt can be raised for Tafseer, books on Seerah, Islamic history, volumes of poets and all the fields of knowledge. Because these came into being only after second century but until then most of the knowledge was taught orally even though books were written before.

Summary: The hadith is the second most important source after the Quran in Islamic law and also the Messenger’s hadith is conclusive evidence in Islamic sharia with the Quran. Without the hadith we couldn’t even understand the five basic tenets of Islam, rule out understanding the Quran.

Mohammad Najeeb Qasmi (www.najeebqasmi.com)